[Rep. Trey] Gowdy said, [relevant remarks being around 6:15] “the president said that he saw Trayvon — in Trayvon Martin, he saw his son. Well, I can tell you, those of us who have daughters, saw our daughters in Kate Steinle. And he’s got two of them too, so at a minimum, he ought to pick up the phone and tell the Steinle family that ‘I grieve for you.’”
From Jonah Goldberg:
“Nice flag!” the woman shouted, sarcastically adding: “F—- you!”
The woman was seated on the patio of a restaurant overlooking Main Street in this famously liberal capital of this famously liberal state when a truck sporting the Confederate emblem passed by.
I could understand the sentiment (particularly given the fact that her lunch partner was an African-American man). When the woman saw my daughter and her friend, she apologized for her profanity.
And while I could have done without the f-bomb around two 12-year-old girls, my real objection was something different. The young woman’s outburst was exactly the reaction the buffoon in the truck was hoping for. After all, Vermont is the heart of union territory (and the first state to ban slavery in 1777). Even without the recent controversies, there’s no reason to fly a Confederate flag in downtown Montpelier except to offend.
But is that really the intent when the descendant of a Confederate soldier puts a flag on his ancestor’s tombstone once a year? According to many on the left, it is. “If we don’t eradicate the Confederate flag,” writes “social theorist” Frank Smecker, “we can only expect more of such racist, depraved acts (like Dylann Roof’s) in our future.”
I’m no big fan of the Confederate flag, but do serious people believe that if Roof didn’t have access to the banner, he would have pursued a life of peace?
It’s this lack of nuance and distinction I find so troubling — and hypocritical.
Claude Berube, director of the Naval Academy Museum, recently compared the rush to dig up Confederate graves and tear down statues in the U.S. to Islamic iconoclasm. The Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas on the grounds that they violate Islamic law. The terrorist group Islamic State is ransacking historic monuments for both God and mammon.
The comparison has its obvious limits, but it does highlight a remarkable double standard. Islamic terror has been on the rise for decades, yet over that time the left’s calls for nuance, tolerance and understanding have only grown louder. Virtually no one condones or makes apologies for ISIL’s barbarity (one can’t say the same about Hamas or Hezbollah), but there has been a Herculean effort to put Islamic extremism in “context.”
President Obama insists that ISIL isn’t even Islamic and that the West should not get on its “high horse” about today’s Muslim atrocities given that Christians committed atrocities eight centuries ago. When Islamist radicals were thwarted in their effort to behead Pamela Geller for organizing a “draw Mohammed” contest, many in the news media were quick to argue that she was asking for it. When an obscure pastor wanted to burn the Quran, the U.S. government went into a panicked tailspin, begging him not to offend or radicalize peaceful Muslims. When jihadists attacked a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s greatest rhetorical fury was aimed at an obscure filmmaker who made an offensive video about Islam.
Shortly after the shooting in Charleston, S.C., the New America think tank chummed the waters with a tendentious study insinuating that Roof and his ilk represented the real terror threat. “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll Than Jihadists in U.S. Since 9/11,” proclaimed a New York Times headline. Forty-eight Americans, including the nine killed in Charleston, have been killed by non-Islamist “terrorists,” compared with a mere 26 by avowed jihadists.
The study is a methodological mess, starting with the fact that it starts the clock immediately after 9/11, ignoring the 3,000 killed on that day. It counts dubious attacks as right-wing terror and ignores the fact that the U.S. has foiled and deterred numerous Islamist terror plots in the past decade. If you catch a bunch of rattlesnakes in your backyard before they bite and kill someone in your family, is that proof there is no threat from snakes?
It would be an improvement if the left could stick to either of its double standards. Personally, I think fellow Americans — even ones who wear Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts — deserve some of the nuance and understanding so many reserve for Islam extremism. But if you’re going to take your zero tolerance for symbols of 19th century slavery so seriously, maybe you should show the same myopic zealotry with regard to the forces who are enslaving people right now.
From William McGurn:
In the heady days since Anthony Kennedy unearthed a constitutional right for Americans “to define and express their identity,” the extravagance of the Supreme Court’s claim has taken some by surprise. It shouldn’t have. In finding for same-sex marriage the way he did, Justice Kennedy made official what he made inevitable a quarter-century back.
That was in 1992. The occasion was a Supreme Court decision on abortion into which Mr. Kennedy inserted a new definition of liberty. Where Thomas Jefferson had grounded human liberty in self-evident truth, Mr. Kennedy holds that the mere self suffices.
“At the heart of liberty,” he wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Now he has followed through. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the court substitutes for the laws passed by the people acting through their state legislatures a new constitutional right to “dignity” based on the court’s “better informed understanding.”
Back when poor Harry Blackmun in Roe v. Wade established a right to privacy that likewise appears nowhere in the Constitution, he wrote under the conceit that his decision would resolve the issue once and for all. Instead, his 1973 ruling launched the culture wars.
Obergefell is Roe on steroids. Roe legalized a market for abortion for those who wanted them and those who provided them. It was qualified by conscience protections plus riders attached to federal legislation greatly limiting the use of taxpayer dollars to underwrite the practice. So Roe didn’t demand much of those on the other side—or on the sidelines.
Obergefell is another thing altogether. In one of the great flimflams of American life, it is a prescription for endless litigation smuggled in under libertarian clothing. This began with the opening question put to all those who held the classic view of marriage: What can it possibly matter to you, they were asked, if two men or two women who love each other call their relationship marriage?
We learned that it matters a great deal.
It matters to Brendan Eich, who was forced to resign last year as CEO of the company he co-founded after it became public that he had donated $1,000 to Proposition 8, the successful California ballot measure banning same-sex marriage.
It matters to Chick-fil-A, which in 2012 saw the mayors of Chicago and Boston declare the restaurant chain had no place in their cities because its chief executive held the same view of marriage that Barack Obama held until very recently.
It matters to Catholic Charities, which in several states has been forced out of the adoption business either because the charity does not offer same-sex spousal benefits or declines to place children for adoption with same-sex couples.
It matters for cake bakers, photographers, florists, jewelers and pizza-parlor owners who happily serve gay customers but draw the line at assisting gay weddings.
Finally, it matters to all religious schools and religious institutions. Give the Obama administration its due: The president’s solicitor general admitted during the Obergefell oral argument that a victory for same-sex marriage would put the tax-exempt status of such institutions on the chopping block.
The reason for all this is that the right for men to marry men or women to marry women is only half of the equation—and not even the most important half at that.
The other half involves antidiscrimination statutes and regulations, not to mention the discretion of federal, state and even private bureaucracies regarding everything from funding and accreditation to tax exemption.
In short, there is nothing live-and-let-live about the way this movement has operated the past few years, and to pretend otherwise requires a willful blindness. Now, with Obergefell, the full furies have been released.
As Justice Samuel Alito suggested in his dissent, thousands of Americans who never dreamed that the issue would affect them will soon get highly personal lessons in how the legalization of same-sex marriage by judicial fiat threatens their schools, their institutions and even their livelihoods. This is not your father’s culture war.
A century ago, another Supreme Court justice famously wrote that the Constitution “is made for people of fundamentally differing views.” How far we have traveled since.
Those seeking to crush all dissent from the new judicial orthodoxy on marriage will not always win, not least because the right to the free exercise of religion—in bald contrast to Mr. Kennedy’s right to dignity—is in fact in the Constitution. Still, however individual cases may turn out, by foreclosing the option for democratic debate and compromise the Supreme Court has ensured a bitter national harvest.
Welcome to Justice Kennedy’s world. Where upholding the Kennedy definition of liberty—the right to define your own truth—turns out to mean denying that same right to millions of Americans who define marriage and truth in a way different from his.
From Edward Mechmann:
In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to a prosperous merchant, in which he discussed his views about the proper role of the judiciary in the American constitutional system. In his letter, Jefferson made a famous observation:
You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.
In his first inaugural address in 1861, Abraham Lincoln echoed these sentiments, in reference to the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in the Dred Scott case:
… the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court … the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.
In 2015, it is now more clear than ever, that Jefferson’s and Lincoln’s predictions have been fulfilled, most recently with the latest ruling on the redefinition of marriage.
Little needs to be said about this latest decision by the Court. This Court has a propensity to make things up as they go along, to satisfy their policy preferences or to follow public opinion. Reasoned legal argumentation really has no great sway over the Court on these issues, so there’s no reason to treat their decision as if it had anything to do with law at all.
There is no question that over the past few years, public opinion has shifted strongly in favor of redefining marriage. But the resolution of such a weighty policy argument should not be left to the least democratic branch of the government. It should be hashed out in the rough and tumble of politics. That is what was happening, prior to the Supreme Court’s first usurpation, in the Windsor case. But democracy is apparently no longer an option, when the post-modern Zeitgeist of sexual liberationism demands its way.
And so, we should really stop pretending. When it comes to certain important issues about the nature of the human person and our society, we really no longer have a rule of law or of reason, but a rule of lawyers — a majority of five, to be precise, all of whom attended a few elite Eastern law schools. Jefferson’s fear of the despotism of an oligarchy has fully come true.